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Neal Berntsen

Artist Lecturer in Trumpet

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Neal Berntsen joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in March 1997, having been appointed at the invitation of Music Director Lorin Maazel in 1996. He is a native of Tacoma, Washington. He began his musical studies at age five playing the violin under the tutelage of his mother. By age eight he advanced to the trumpet and ultimately received a B.M. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.M. from Northwestern University. A former member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Neal has also performed as principal trumpet for the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the Bamberg Sinfoniker in Germany. Other orchestral performances have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Active as a chamber musician, Neal is a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass whose recordings: “BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE” (1998),“A CHRISTMAS CONCERT” (2000), “THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS” (2003) and “A SONG OF CHRISTMAS” (2008) were described as “...Awhirl with color and rhythmic vitality - quite irresistible on every count.” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Berntsen is also a founding member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet of Chicago, about which Fanfare magazine stated, “Not only expert but musical...undeniable virtuosity.” The Asbury Brass Quintet recording with Adolph Herseth, “INTRODUCING THE ASBURY BRASS QUINTET” has become legendary. In June 2005 Mr. Berntsen toured Japan with members of the Chicago Symphony brass section with the Chicago Brass Soloists. As a soloist he recently performed the Arutunian Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra and the Proto, Carmen Fantasy with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Other solo engagements have included the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 at the Sedona Chamber Music Festival in Arizona. Mr. Berntsen’s performance of Copeland’s “Quiet City” was called a highlight of the 2005 season by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Mr. Berntsen’s solo recording TRUMPET VOICES was released in Nov. 2005. Andrew Druckenbrod, music critic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called the recording, “Electric”. While Mark Kanny of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review stated, “Trumpet Voices is an indispensable recording for anyone who appreciates great trumpet playing.”

Neal Berntsen was a finalist and prizewinner in multiple International Trumpet Competitions. His wide ranging dicography includes: The Orchestras of Pittsburgh and Chicago, Manheim Steamroller, The American Girl Doll Christmas album and Michael Jackson. 

As an educator, Mr. Berntsen is Chair of the Brass Division and Artist Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. He has previously served on the faculty of Duquesne University and Valparaiso University in Indiana. He has been published in The Instrumentalist magazine, and the International Trumpet Guild Journal. Mr. Berntsen has presented master classes and recitals around the world - most recently in China.

Mr. Berntsen is an active studio musician and was featured on a national series of commercials during the broadcast of the Olympic games in Atlanta. His performance on “America” sung by Diana Ross opened the women’s final tennis match of the 2001 US OPEN in Flushing Meadows New York. 

Neal Berntsen has studied with Adolph Herseth, Vincent Cichowicz and Manuel Laureano. He resides in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsyvlania with his wife Karen and three children Molly, Jacob, and Charlie.

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Raymond Blackwell

Vocal Coach & Staff Pianist

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Raymond Blackwell, baritone, coach, accompanist and voice teacher is originally from Wilmington, Delaware. He has a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Delaware and a Master of Music in Opera from Binghamton University. As a resident artist with Tri Cities Opera Mr. Blackwell sang many roles ranging from Marcello and Schaunard in La Boheme to John Proctor in Robert Ward's The Crucible. He has also sung with Opera Delaware, Ithaca Opera, Opera at Florham, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Opera. He came to Pittsburgh in 1996 and served six seasons as coach and accompanist for the Pittsburgh Opera. He is now on the voice faculty at Carnegie Mellon University as an artist lecturer, accompanist and voice coach. Other appointments include the voice faculty at Binghamton University and Mercyhurst College. 

Blackwell also works as a rehearsal accompanist for the Pittsburgh Symphony and Johnstown Symphony where he has had the opportunity to play for such great singers as Jessye Norman, Kallen Esperian, Thomas Quasthoff, Sherrill Milnes, and Suzanne Menzer, to name a few. In the summer of 2006, he played and sang a concert at the Singer Laren Museum in Holland in the presence of Queen Beatrix and made his Pittsburgh conducting debut with Undercroft Opera's production of Mozart's Così fan tutte.

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Jeremy Branson

Artist Lecturer in Percussion

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Jeremy Branson is the Associate Principal Percussionist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his appointment in the Pittsburgh Symphony, Mr. Branson was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. During that time he also played regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Mr. Branson has performed under the batons of such conductors as James Conlon, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Andres Nelsons, Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwartz, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and David Zinman. He has performed with notable artists including Emanuel Ax, Sarah Chang, Renee Fleming, Hilary Hahn, Thomas Hampson, Lynn Harrell, Lang Lang, Yo Yo Ma, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Andre Watts. Mr. Branson has premiered works by composers such as John Adams, Richard Danielpour, Michael Gandolfi, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Gyorgi Ligeti, Steven Mackey, and Christopher Theofanidis.

Mr. Branson earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Texas State University. He then earned his Masters of Music degree from Temple University in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Alan Abel. During his education, Mr. Branson attended the Aspen Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, Roundtop Music Festival and the Texas Music Festival. 

Mr. Branson is the Chair of the Percussion Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He endorses Zildjian Cymbals, ProMark Sticks and Mallets, Remo drumheads, and Pearl/Adams Percussion.

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William Caballero

Associate Teaching Professor of Horn

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William Caballero joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as Principal Horn in May 1989, coming from the Principal Horn post with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Previously he had been a member of l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and the Hartford Symphony. 

Caballero also has played and been a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Houston Grand Opera, l'Opera de Montreal, the Opera Company of Boston, and the New England Ragtime Ensemble. Summer Festivals include The Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Bellingham Music Festival of Bellingham, Washington.

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Judith Cagley

Artist Lecturer in Solfege

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Judi Cagley currently serves as Artist Lecturer in Solfege, Administrative Coordinator of the Marta Sanchez Dalcroze Training Center, Eurhythmics Instructor in the Music Preparatory School and faculty advisor to Alpha Mu Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.

In addition to volunteering with the Education Department of the Pittsburgh Opera, Cagley plays violin in The Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra, is a member of the Education and Outreach Committee of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She holds a B.F.A. and Certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from Carnegie Mellon, a master's degree in education from Duquesne University and a Certificate in Gifted Education from Carlow University.

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Andrés Cárdenes

Dorothy Richard Starling & Alexander Speyer Jr. University Professor
 of Violin

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Recognized worldwide as a musical phenomenon, Grammy-nominated Andrés Cárdenes parlays his myriad talents into one of classical music’s most versatile careers. An intensely passionate and personally charismatic artist, Cuban-born Cárdenes has garnered international acclaim from critics and audiences alike for his compelling performances as a violinist, conductor, violist, chamber musician, concertmaster, and recording artist.

Since capturing Second Prize in the 1982 Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow, Mr. Cárdenes has appeared as a soloist on four continents with over 100 orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, Sinfonica Nacional de Caracas, Sinfonica de Barcelona, and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. He has collaborated with many of today’s greatest conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Mariss Jansons, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir André Previn, Leonard Slatkin, Jaap van Zweden, David Zinman and Manfred Honeck.

This year and next Mr. Cárdenes continues his project to record many standard and contemporary concerti. Released in 2009 are recordings of concerti by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Barber and David Stock on the Artek and Albany labels. Plans to record Bartok’s Second Violin Concerto and the new version of the Viola Concerto are slated for 2012, along with other sonata recordings with pianist Ian Hobson. A recording of the complete works for violin by Leonardo Balada was released on Naxos in January 2011, with the complete Sonatas by Hindemith and the Beethoven Violin Concerto on Artek, to be released in the fall of 2011. Cárdenes’s discography includes over two dozen recordings of concerti, sonatas, short works, orchestral and chamber music on the Ocean, Naxos, Sony, Arabesque, RCA, ProArte, Telarc, Artek, Melodya and Enharmonic labels.

As an ambassador for music of our time, Mr. Cárdenes has commissioned and premiered over 65 works by American and Latin American composers such as David Stock, Leonardo Balada, Ricardo Lorenz, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo, Roberto Sierra, and Marilyn Taft Thomas. His concerto repertoire includes over 100 works, ranging from the Baroque era to the present.

Mr. Cárdenes has twice served as President of the Jury of the Stradivarius International Violin Competition and in 2011 will join the jury of the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A Cultural Ambassador for UNICEF from 1980-1991 and an indefatigable spokesperson for the arts, Mr. Cárdenes has received numerous awards for his teaching, performances, recordings and humanitarian efforts, most notably from the cities of Los Angeles and Shanghai and the Mexican Red Cross. He was named Pittsburgh Magazine’s 1997 Classical Artist of the Year and received the 2001 “Shalom” Award from Kollell’s International Jewish Center for promoting world harmony and peace through music.

Mr. Cárdenes was appointed Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by Maestro Lorin Maazel in 1989 and departed after the 2010 season to concentrate on his conducting, solo and chamber music careers.

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Andrew Carlisle

Artist Lecturer, Director of Piping

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Andrew Carlisle, an internationally known, award-winning bagpiper from Northern Ireland, was named Carnegie Mellon director of piping in 2010. Carlisle will lead the university's pipe band, orchestrate its participation in competitions, university events and ceremonies, and promote the School of Music's bagpipe major. He succeeds James McIntosh, who has served as interim director since Alasdair Gillies left the university last fall.

Carlisle comes from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, where he has taught in the undergraduate music program and has directed the university's Traditional Irish Ensemble.

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Mark Carver

Associate Teaching Professor of Collaborative Piano

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Pianist Mark Carver was born in Mobile, Alabama and received his earliest musical training in Pittsburgh, PA from Jerry Veeck and Lorraine Gaal Landefeld. Other teachers include Enrica Cavallo-Gulli, Natalie Phillips, and Ralph Zitterbart. International artists with whom he has studied are Earl Wild, Jorge Bolet, Jeanne-Marie Darré, Ozan Marsh, John Ogdon, and Pierre Sancan. He has studied at the Chautauqua Institute (Chautauqua, NY), Académie Internationale d'Été (Nice, France), Indiana University (Bloomington, IN), and Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). Mr. Carver holds the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Music.

He made his début with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at age 15, and has been a guest artist with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, the Plum Creek Chamber Orchestra, and the University of Pittsburgh Orchestra. His début at age 17 at Carnegie Hall, New York, was with the Carnegie Mellon University Wind Ensemble in the première of Introduction and Allegro by Philip Catelinet.



"Total command" and "delightful" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) are phrases used to describe Carver's performances of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the River City Brass Band. Called "a stalwart presence in the local music scene", his accompanying for the Pittsburgh Camerata has been regarded as "refined and tasteful" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

His discography includes Jessica Rivera Sings Romantic Music for Soprano, Clarinet and Piano by Urtext Digital Classics (www.urtextonline.com) and Sacred Songs and Interludes: Music of Nancy Galbraith with the Pittsburgh Camerata (www.pittsburghcamerata.org).  In 2014, a second recording with Miss Rivera entitled Jessica Rivera Sings Canciones Hispanas (www.urtextonline.com) will be released.



Carver has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Carnegie Award, the National Federation of Music Clubs Scholarship, the Pittsburgh Concert Society Youth and Major auditions, the Carnegie Mellon University Chamber Music Prize, and the Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Award. He was the Grand Prize winner at the Cincinnati World Competition in 1975, which included a grant for summer study in France. He currently serves as Associate Teaching Professor of Collaborative Piano at Carnegie Mellon University, and as Artist-in-Residence for the Irma Gonzales Curso Magistral de Verano at the Conservatorio Nacional in Mexico City. He is also Music Director at the church of St. John Vianney in South Pittsburgh.

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Dana Casto

Director of Marketing and Communications

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Dana Casto is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for Carnegie Mellon’s School of Music. Dana is primarily responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of a comprehensive program in public relations for the School of Music, which presents more than 300 concerts, recitals, special events and programs annually with numerous collaborations and partnerships in the Pittsburgh arts community. This includes developing and coordinating advertising, promotional, performance, recruitment and admissions materials encompassing print, electronic publications and web outreach. He is a key School of Music staff member and plays a critical role in audience development and in advancing, marketing and promoting the school's mission, strategies and public face to the greater university as well as the local, national and international music and arts communities.

Prior to coming to Carnegie Mellon, Dana was a Project Manager for the Arts Education Collaborative where his major responsibilities included being the editor for the monthly newsletter, facilitating collaborations and partnerships with arts and cultural organizations, and researching issues related to arts education. Dana completed a graduate degree in arts management at Carnegie Mellon University and also holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from Capital University. Prior to his graduate studies, he was the coordinator of Indianapolis Opera's Young Artist Program and Indianapolis Opera Ensemble. 

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Rebecca Cherian

Artist Lecturer in Trombone

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Rebecca Cherian is Co-Principal Trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She is a founding board member of the International Women's Brass Conference (IWBC) and was the editor of the IWBC newsletter for four years. Ms. Cherian began her professional career at the age of 16 as trombonist with the San Jose Symphony. At the age of 17, she appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, after winning first prize in the San Francisco Symphony's Young Musicians' Awards. Ms. Cherian also received the Atwater Kent Brass Award and the Outstanding Chamber Music Player Award at the Yale School of Music. Ms. Cherian earned her B.M. degree from the California Institute of the Arts and her M.M. degree from the Yale School of Music. Before becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1989, she held the position of Principal Trombone with the Springfield Symphony in Massachusetts and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. She was also faculty trombone instructor at the Hartt School of Music, University of Connecticut in Storrs, and Wesleyan University.